Last week, I convened and moderated a panel discussion on “Delivering with Digital” at the CMO Club Innovation Summit in NYC. The panelists were heads of digital at three of the world’s most iconic brands:
- Linda Boff, Executive Director - Global Digital Marketing, GE
- Perry Hewitt, Chief Digital Officer, Harvard University
- Katrina Klier, Senior Director - Worldwide Digital Marketing, Microsoft.
Our discussion traversed B2B, B2C, and non-profit models, and provided actionable insights and imperatives to inspire CMOs to enhance their commitment to digital marketing. Here are my key takeaways:
GE is one of the most valuable brands in the world and digital plays a key role in building brand reputation—it makes the company more approachable. GE’s social and digital content, programs, and team are renowned as best-in-class, and have recently received awards for their work on Instagram and Pinterest. GE takes a “stock and flow” (reference to Noah Brier work) approach to marketing via social media. “Stock” is traditional content marketing fodder, such as white papers and videos that have long shelf lives. “Flow” is content that is “lighter” and more perishable. GE deploys a combination of these two content types to engage its audiences.
Harvard University’s approach to digital marketing is centered on showcasing the breadth and depth of activities at the university. Award-winning Harvard.edu is a strong example of the “aggregate + syndicate = amplify” formula that the team follows. Harvard’s digital strategy emphasizes multimedia as a primary and not ancillary communications approach—the focus is on developing a content strategy that's platform-agnostic and connects with audiences where they are. The institution is adopting an approach that’s not only “mobile first,” but that also leverages location and alerts to take advantage of the channel’s unique capabilities.
Microsoft takes a quantitative approach to digital marketing, and the company recently undertook a digital impact research report on how individuals use technology to make purchase decisions. Partly as a result of this research, Microsoft’s OEM division places emphasis on search engine marketing (SEO). An important aspect of their strategy is content for partner co-marketing programs, and the OEM division is keenly aware of the interplay of content and context. Microsoft aims to reach buyers (partner firms and end-users of products that feature Microsoft technology) through a complete mix of channels—from search, to email, to community and social.
Eight Digital Imperatives for CMOs
Despite the diversity of their enterprises, our panelists advocated common approaches to digital that can be summed up in the below eight imperatives:
- Adopt an agile marketing strategy. Have a strategy, execute swiftly, run experiments, measure, learn, and refine your approach.
- Aspire to deep relevancy. Exploit the power of digital to listen to customers, advance your story-telling, target small segments, and “bring to life” your firm and its impact.
- Focus on engaging content. Develop a range of content, be mindful of the context in which the consumer consumes it, and the shelf-live of the asset.
- Deploy content across a mix of platforms. Customers move across platforms and screens—from social to mobile to web, your strategy should reflect your customers’ behavior.
- Double down on mobile. Data on the adoption of mobile devices across every demographic means leveraging mobile is essential for reaching customers.
- Emphasize transparency. Your customers already know, or can instantly ascertain, everything about your firm—honesty regarding your values, products and services is non-negotiable.
- Understand the technology. Be active on the tools and platforms you are deploying (no excuses!) and hire a team that can look under the hood.
- Build a culture of digital fluency. Digital transcends the marketing team—communicate this view internally, measure and share the impact of your initiatives, and digital can be a firm-wide change agent and source of innovation.
By appointing the senior digital leaders that participated on our panel, GE, Harvard, and Microsoft are demonstrating their commitment to digital as the way forward for their brands—digital is delivering for them now.
Question: What imperatives or advice would you add to the list? What commitments are you and your firm making to digital this year?
For additional coverage of Velocidi's Delivering with Digital panel, visitthecmoclub.com